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Reader's view: Legislature needs real health care solutions

The Oct. 22 letter, "Schultz complaining, not fixing, health care," touted health care "reforms" Rep. Greg Davids and other Republicans championed at the Legislature. In reality, these measures were a half-billion dollar handout to insurance companies without any guarantees for helping Minnesotans. With a 25 percent premium discount disappearing for many Minnesota families next year, there is real danger out-of-pocket costs will rise substantially as a result.

Republicans also allowed for-profit health insurers to operate in Minnesota for the first time in memory, resulting in HMOs shifting money meant for health care to accounts that can be funneled to corporate profit — $90 million already. I offered an amendment in conference committee to limit this, and the DFL successfully negotiated a two-year moratorium. Meanwhile, Davids and other Republicans refused to even hear proposals to give Minnesotans lower premiums by letting them buy into MinnesotaCare or to extend a premium discount program that would provide lower premiums than the Republican reinsurance.

I am a professional health care economist working to improve health care. With my work on the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee and Gov. Mark Dayton's Health Care Finance Task Force, as well as my proposal of comprehensive bills for real health care reform that helps real people, I can assure Rep. Davids I'm not worried about scoring "political points." I am focused on improving the affordability of health care for all Minnesotans.

However, it's not about me — or Davids or any legislator. It's about people. Along with the precarious situation in Washington, D.C., access to health care continues to be at risk for all Minnesotans. These aren't easy issues, and while Republicans like Davids may think insurance-company giveaways are easier, it's time for them to work with DFLers on real solutions to ensure everyone has quality health care they can afford.

Rep. Jen Schultz